The most highly revered artistic form in the Islamic world is calligraphy. The high regard for it stems from the great significance of the word in Islam, specifically from the central importance of the Qur'an, which for Muslims is the direct word of God revealed to mankind. From the earliest times, calligraphers in the Islamic world strove to create beautiful forms, and this often led to great inventiveness in displaying the art of the word.
This page is from one of the best-known compendia of calligraphed verses from the medieval Islamic world: the Diwan (Anthology) of poems by the Timurid prince Sultan-Husayn Bayqara of Khorasan (northeastern Iran and Afghanistan, reigned 1470–1506). The verses in this anthology were produced in the rare technique of découpage, a term derived from the French verb découper (to cut out). The Chaghatai Turkish verses in nasta'liq (literally, "hanging") script on this page are made from small bits of precisely cut, multicolored paper glued to the luxurious indigo-dyed support sheet.
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CaptionSultan 'Ali Mashhadi (Persian, 1442-1519). Folio of Poetry From the Divan of Sultan Husayn Mirza, ca. 1490. Ink, opaque watercolors, and gold on indigo blue ground, with découpage and gold-flecked border, 8 7/8 x 5 1/4 in. (22/5 x 13/3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund, 45.4.3